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Morocco's style showing up in distinctive home decors

Morocco, situated on top of Africa, is a country of dramatic contrasts a short ferry ride across the Mediterranean from Spain. There's the arid, stark countryside and crowded cities packed with colorful sights and sounds.

Old, inner cities like Tangier and Tetuan offer narrow passageways leading to open-air markets where food, cheap baubles and fine treasures are sold, bartered or bargained for. Pack-laden burros are a common sight among the market stalls, and they're not just there for tourists.The ancient Moorish-influenced architecture leaves a strong impression, almost as strong as the thick coffee served in tiny cups. Lacy plasterwork, splashing fountains and colorfully tiled courtyards offer a delightful interplay of pattern, shadow and sound at the finer homes and some public buildings and museums.

Moroccan cooking, spicy with cinnamon, turmeric and a sophisticated blend of other spices, has been trendy for a few years. Now the country's distinctive style has broadened into the home decorative arts.

See the Moroccan theme done simply in the current issue of Southern Accents magazine. On a Moroccan-tiled side table, Southern Accents editors showed a collection of small clay flowerpots (regular ones, not decorative), a single Granny Smith apple perched in the top of each small pot.

Also, in same issue, see big inverted-bell glass vases, two on a dining room trestle table, filled to the brim with kumquats. Many of the small orange ovals might be costly at the supermarket, but they are more long-lasting and less costly than fresh flowers. It is an eye-catching effect in the clear glass vases, though a display of Clementines (small, seedless tangerines imported from Spain and Morocco) would be more authentic.

Another Old World fruit to display this fall and during the holidays is pomegranates.

To prolong the display life of apples, pears, mini-pumpkins, pomegranates or citrus, dip the fruit into clear acrylic floor wax, such as Future. Set to dry on newspaper; the waxed apples will last at least six weeks this way at room temperature, if there were no soft spots to begin with. Just be sure no one eats the dipped fruit.

There are three great stories happening in leather, according to the Home Furnishings Council. First, distressed leathers are one of the hottest looks in upholstery, partly because less expensive, more readily available hides with natural scarring and markings can be used.

Colored leather continues to be popular. Until 15 years ago, leather was tanned primarily for automotive uses, so black, brown, gray and burgundy were common. Now leather comes in every conceivable color, from buttercup yellow to seafoam green.

The third look, engraved leather, is just emerging. Hides are engraved under tremendous heat and pressure in a variety of patterns, paisleys to damasks, florals to basketweaves.